December 6, 2011

Reigious Experience: Service at the Jewish Congregation of Adath Jeshurun

By Ryan Considine–

A looming gate stands over the main entrance of the Congregation Adath Jeshurun along the drive into the private community. The service has already begun and the marble Star of David is engraved on a double door on the back wall, by far the most intricate feature in the chapel. The star is divided into 22 different sections, each one featuring a shade of blue, green and beige. Directly to the right of the star is a seven-branched candelabrum, a set of candles that represents the Menorah.

The bimah, or reader’s platform, is located in front of the candelabrum where the speaker recites the Torah.

The songs and responses are mostly in Hebrew, with a few responses read in English. After the speaker is done reading from the Torah, she bends her knees slightly in reverence to the candelabrum in unison with the crowd; she will do this several times throughout the ceremony.

Judaism is a 3,000-year-old tradition emphasizing the oneness of God, love of fellow man, the observance of commandments and the study of the Torah. This holiday season, those of the Jewish faith who are new to Louisville will undoubtedly be looking for a place to celebrate Chanukah.

Adath Jeshurun will hold services and candle lightings beginning on Dec. 20 and ending on Dec. 28. The traditional Jewish holiday involves the lighting of the Menorah over an 8 day period, lighting one candle each day. Chanukah is a festival of rededication and is also called the Festival of Lights, according to Adath Jeshuran’s website.

Congregation Adath Jeshurun is a branch of Conservative Judaism with a dynamic interpretation of Jewish Law. They are dedicated to a life-long education, a traditional style of worship and acts of loving and kindness.

Rabbi Robert Slosberg has served at the Congregation Adath Jeshurun since 1981 and is the first Jewish Theological Seminary scholar to receive the Rabbi Simon Greenberg Rabbinic Achievement Award. He was recently honored during a tribute dinner at the Louisville Marriott Downtown for his 30 years of service. He serves on the board of the National Council of Synagogues and received an invitation to a White House breakfast for religious leaders to offer an invocation to members of the U.S. Senate.

A full tour of the center included a look at the newly renovated chapel, over ten times the size of the previous one. The chapel features a stunning picture of Jacob’s Ladder painted on a transparent door designed by the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor. In Genesis, God gives Jacob a vision of angels ascending and descending from heaven to symbolize the connection between God and man. The ladder is designed with a swirling pattern of jewels against a sky full of purple, blue and orange. The Sifrei Torah is kept behind the door and is made visible through the picture. In Jewish tradition, the ark is always positioned to face towards Jerusalem, therefore it is facing east towards Israel.

White marble imported from Jerusalem surrounds the door, spanning across the entire back wall. Straight above the door hangs the burning bush, a mark chosen by God to help Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt into Canaan.

Slosberg emphasized his ambitions to modernize his center to reach out to a younger audience. He said people between the ages off 18-35 tend to not affiliate with any kind of religion and practice their own faith in solitary groups.

The Congregation Adath Jeshurun offers a rich tradition and a strong sense of community. Daily Minyans are held at 8:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m and are open to anyone who would like to join. They welcome everyone with a warm inviting smile and are enthusiastic about their faith and expanding the community.

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Photos: Nathan Doulglas/The Louisville Cardinal

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